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The Growth and Stagnation of our Computational Powers

· Data Mining,Statistics,Science

The Growth and Stagnation of our Computational Powers

Just before World War I, Supreme Commander of the Allies Ferdinand Foch brushed off the idea of using planes in combat, saying “[they] are interesting scientific toys, but... are of no military value.” After World Wars I & 2, two atomic bombs, decades of aviation-centric wars and an Obama administration’s worth of drone strikes, Foch is looking a little silly.

Foch couldn’t have known how airplane technology would take off; he made an ignorant guess. He looked into a dark abyss, where something mysterious was growing, and proclaimed that it was empty. And as new technologies are emerging, such as data mining, that irresponsibility is being replicated today.
Data mining is a powerful process that uses statistics and machine learning to find patterns in data. It gives corporations valuable information, such as the behaviors of consumers, allowing for product specialization and, consequently, incredible profits.

With great power come headstrong, greedy idiots, like Cornell Professor Brian Wansink. Once at the top of his field of food psychology, Brian pumped out article after article of fabricated trend. Researchers decided to question him on his findings from an Italian buffet when he claimed that “men eat 93 percent more pizza when they eat with women.”1 It turns out that Brian was parsing so many variables, that he was bound to find a random correlation. After further investigation, Wansinks’s articles were pulled, and he “retired” from Cornell.

Wansink tried to use smart calculators to replace brainwork, and unfortunately, that doesn’t work in science. Maybe he should have read up on Icarus.

Written by Devaansh Mahtani & Edited by Alexander Fleiss

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